The Scolai

“Just a Good Guy…With a Few Bad Habits”

Fire Gary Bettman

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My brother Bill (Hampton On, if you haven’t been on his site yet, check it out), posted a great fight clip yesterday and captioned it “The Good Old Days…”He couldn’t possibly have been more right. We grew up as a Hockey family and that classic clip of Bob Probert and Craig Coxe is a perfect example of what NHL Hockey was before Gary Bettman cut off its balls.

Bettman says that NHL Hockey is moving forward. Oh really? Prior to Bettman’s rule changes, and his “pussification program”, the NHL enjoyed Network Television contracts and a growing fan base. What has happened on Bettman’s watch?      

1.)    Decreased Attendance

2.)   Decreased T.V. ratings

3.)   Loss of Network contracts (the NHL is on the “Versus” channel for crying out loud, and even Canadian ratings are down)

This is moving forward? Sounds like Bettman is still working covertly for the NBA to wreck the competition.

Gary Bettman is an Attorney and a Basketball guy. He seems to seek to place the NHL on the same “no touch” level as the NBA. His excuse is that without the fighting and hitting style of play once prevalent in the NHL, the game would raise its level of play and be more interesting to the uninitiated. What’s actually taken place is the core fan base has deserted the Ice Capades version of their sport. Bettman is big on the European style of play; the only problem is his league is in
North America . Those of us who grew up with “The Broad Street Bullies” and “The Lunch Pail Gang” will never truly accept a bunch of Euro Ballerinas no matter how talented.

The core NHL fan base reveres guys like Ted Lindsey, Eddie Shack, Bob Probert, Bobby Clarke, Mark Messier, Gordie Howe (give me a second, I just covered my heart with my hat at the mention of Mr. Hockey), guys that could play the game and beat the bark off anyone that messed with them. We also hold a special place for guys likeDave “The Hammer” Schultz, Joe Kocur, Don Maloney, Terry O’Reilly, Tiger Williams, Dave Brown, Dave Semenko, Troy Crowder, Tim Hunter, Darren McCarty and Stu”The Grim Reaper” Grimson to name a few, guys who kept the opposition honest around their team’s star players.

Bettman could take the league forward by taking a step back. Rescind the “Instigator Rule,” make the “Third Man In” penalty a simple 5 minute major, assess a 10 minute misconduct to the first man off the bench, but 2 minute minors to anyone who follows without actually throwing punches. Outlaw helmets with visors unless there is a legitimate medical reason for the player to have one. Cowardice is not a legitimate reason (see Claude Lemieux). The bottom line is Americans and Canadians, the NHL’s core fan base, like a rough brand of Hockey. Fighting? Put ’em up. Heavy hits? I hope someone winds up in the rafters every night.

Unfortunately, Bettman seems content with the mess he has made and says he plans to fulfill his contract which takes him through 2011. I don’t know how many more of his “improvements” the NHL can take. Now is the time for the NHL owners to get together and agree on a commissioner who knows how to give the fans what they want, and not just some Pollyanna version of a once great sport.

In fact let me cast my vote, here and now, for “Grapes” (Don Cherry). Now THAT selection would mean a certain return to NHL Hockey the way it was meant to be played.

Scolai

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Written by thescolai

February 22, 2007 at 10:15 am

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